INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

September 29, 2014

RIGGING TO SUSTAIN DEMOCRACY

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 12:29 pm

The prevailing political chaos in Pakistan is complicated by conflicting narratives. Despite confusion the time for an idea has come. People discern right from wrong.

Democracy despite its inefficacy must continue in present format; eventually it would cleanse itself. Establishment/ foreign agencies have hatched a London Plan. The narrative with minor adjustments is also used by parliamentary opposition and the pseudo liberals. Hidden behind this theory are billions of ill-gotten dollars and business empires raised out of nowhere to manifest ambitions of political upstarts and creations of opportunity. Nawaz Sharif’s sojourn in Saudi Arabia gives weightage to his religious credentials. He dislikes the army for putting a spanner in his Jihadist designs. A cartoon best sums up this fallacy with the caption that the Army instead of tanks now uses animals inscribed with ‘Go Nawaz Go’ for regime change.

Pakistan is a state with perpetual crises. The military and intelligence agencies are rouge. Without civilian supremacy and clipping of armed forces, Pakistan will remain a threat to neighbours. Ultimately Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will fall into hands of terrorists. Proponents of this theory ignore that for the past six months, Pakistan’s armed forces are fighting the most effective war against terrorism that overshadows the entire duration of ISAF-NATO operations in Afghanistan. The war lacks civil support that would rather sleep with the enemy.

Pakistan’s democratic progress is hostage to powerful corrupt and dishonest elites. Over past six decades, they have subverted Jinnah’s social contract with the people. It is time that Pakistanis become true stake holders in the system through transparency. This is the Azadi (freedom) and Inqilab (revolution). Critics maintain that Imran Khan and Dr Qadri are pawns being used to advance an agenda of establishment and foreign powers. As a corollary, another narrative describes the Azadi/Inqilab movement as precursor to anarchy, balkanisation and nuclear disarmament. The biggest merchant of horse trading and bribing General (Retired) Mirza Aslam Beg of Mehran Bank Scandal relishes the limelight to emerge from obscurity as the leader of this notion to help goons he financed and groomed.

The print and electronic media initially took a realistic and objective view of the situation. But as time passed, most media houses and anchors took to grilling their panels with some facts, half-truths and falsifications. These discussions sans framework went berserk. If this wild spin is to be believed, then corruption for the sake of giving democracy a chance and civilian supremacy is condonable. Pakistan’s staged encounters killing innocents are a necessary ends means relationship. Imran Khan and Dr Qadri are terrorists and foreign agents who must be tried for high treason.

Pakistan’s commentators and intellectuals are confused. Some have an elastic conscience or harbour personal grudges. Far and few see the entire crises as violation of fundamental human rights and international agreements. Despite accepting rigging as fait accompli, they are unnerving in their expediency to support the status quo.

Most human right organisations are biased. The curious silence over state sponsored massacre in Model Town Lahore, excessive use of chemical agents in Islamabad, use of ball ammunition against unarmed protestors, illegal custodies and deaths spell duplicity. Silence means criminal neutrality. Asma Jehanghir, the recent recipient of Alternative Noble Prize is full of hate and venom against this movement. She would rather single out presence of women and children at dharnas (human shields) than challenge death of innocents. Since these protests are premised on the fundamental rights of individuals and sanctity of the ballot, one expected an objective approach. Being a lawyer an ex-president of the Bar, one expected her to vociferously criticise aberrations in the constitution created by Chaudary Courts that led to rigged elections.

Perhaps the most despicable are the inactive left and armchair reformists. Their space as advocates of civic conscience has quickly been usurped by the Azadi/Inqilab slogan. These pseudo leftist and liberals insist to demean both leaders at every forum.

Daily speeches on the containers talk of the relationship of the people with the state as enshrined in the first three parts of the constitution of Pakistan. They create awareness on social issues mentioning women, labourers, tenants, haris, farmers, students, teachers, low income groups, human resource development, exploitative capitalism, corruption, jobbery, nepotism and injustice. Their oratory flows out of the speeches made by Qaid e Azam Muhamad Ali Jinnah, Islamic history and international charters. Some commentators have laureled them as rightists with a leftist agenda. But Imran Khan is neither left nor right. He is actually refocussing the centrality of Pakistan’s politics. As the movement gains momentum, it is a foregone conclusion that most trade unions, labour unions and small socialist parties would form tributaries to the sea resigning the intellectuals to armchairs.

Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani’s (the chief counter terrorism commander) talk at National Defence University brings clarity to the confusion and narratives. He stressed on the need to extending operations to the mainland. He hinted that political issues were impeding action against terror groups in Punjab and Balochistan. These operations were delayed for three years due to indecision. Belatedly undertaken, urban operations are limited due to lack of civilian capacity and will. This is an issue repeatedly written by the scribe and also voiced by Ex-Prime Minister Gilani and Major General (R) Athar Abbas. The revelation by a serving general by implication singles out General (R) Kayani and the present government for the strategic impasse. Link this apprehension to the recent statement of Chaudary Shujaat Hussain. A complicity to sustain an agreement reached between foreign powers, PMLN, PPP with the then COAS as guarantor emerges. Three successive tenures is the bottom line.

Post-Election Review Report on General Elections 2013, released by Election Commission of Pakistan could not dilute the overpowering role of Returning Officers in making the elections questionable. Limited admissions by ECP in its review are made with the twin purpose of exoneration and hope to hide larger facts. Shall we therefore conclude that Elections 2013 were rigged beyond reasonable doubt but why?

Instability of Pakistan is an important plank for international actors to keep Pakistan pliant. Given a road of healthy democracy and socio-economic development, Pakistan would emerge too independent to be tamed. Thus the electoral logjam must be maintained. Who is right and who is wrong is for readers to judge.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://nation.com.pk/columns/27-Sep-2014/rigging-to-sustain-democracy

 

 

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